Sony Pictures Imageworks
|Industry||CGI visual effects|
|Founded||May 26, 1992|
|Headquarters||725 Granville Street 5th floor Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada|
|Additional offices||10202 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City, California, United States|
Number of locations
Number of employees
|Parent||Sony Pictures Entertainment|
(Sony Group Corporation)
Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. is a Canadian visual effects and computer animation studio headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, with an additional office on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, California. SPI is a unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group.
The company has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars for their work on Spider-Man 2 and the computer-animated short film The ChubbChubbs!, and received many other nominations for their work.
SPI has provided visual effects for many films; most recent include The Meg, Men in Black: International, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. They also provided services for several of director Robert Zemeckis' films, including Contact, Cast Away, The Polar Express, and Beowulf.
Since the foundation of its sister company Sony Pictures Animation in 2002, SPI would go on to animate nearly all of SPA's films, including Open Season, Surf's Up, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and films in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Smurfs and Hotel Transylvania franchises, in addition to animating films for other studios such as Arthur Christmas for Aardman Animations (co-produced by SPA), Storks and Smallfoot for the Warner Animation Group, The Angry Birds Movie and its sequel for Rovio Animation, and Over the Moon for Netflix Animation, Netflix and Pearl Studio.
Sony Pictures Imageworks was formed in 1992 with five employees to use computers to help plan complicated scenes for live-action films. Located in the former TriStar building, their first work was a previsualization for the 1993 film Striking Distance.
To fill the gaps between VFX jobs, SPI decided to partake in a more profitable animation business. Its first independent animated effort was the 5-minute short The ChubbChubbs! directed by Eric Armstrong. In 2002, it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. Early Bloomer, released in 2003, was the division's second short film and originally made as a storyboarding exercise. SPI completed its first feature animation project in 2006 with the release of Open Season, which was produced by sister company Sony Pictures Animation.
In 2007, SPI acquired Indian visual effects studio FrameFlow to take advantage of lower labor costs. Renamed to Imageworks India, a modern facility was opened in Chennai a year later. To leverage New Mexico's tax rebates and talent base, a satellite production facility was opened in 2007 in Albuquerque, becoming the largest post-production operation in the state. In 2010, SPI opened a production studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, in order to take advantage of the local talent pool and government film production incentives. Two years later, the studio doubled its Vancouver facilities. At the same time, the Albuquerque studio was closed down due to declining New Mexico's subsidies and difficulty with attracting artist to move there.
In the beginning of 2014, as part of Sony's cost-cutting move, SPI transferred a portion of its technology team from its headquarters in Culver City to Vancouver. By May 2014, entire headquarters and production had been moved to Vancouver, with only a small office remaining in Culver City. At the same time, SPI closed down its Indian studio, laying off around 100 employees. A year later, over 700 artists moved into a new 74,000-square feet headquarters in Vancouver.
During 2009-2010, SPI made transition from traditional biased, multi-pass rendering system to a largely singlepass, global illumination system incorporating modern ray-tracing and physically based shading techniques. They have achieved that with Arnold Renderer, an unbiased stochastic ray tracer. Arnold, started in 1997 by Marcos Fajardo, was co-developed between 2004 and 2009 with SPI, where Marcos was employed, and a commercial branch is being developed by Marcos' Madrid based company Solid Angle SL (now owned by Autodesk). Arnold was used on projects such as Monster House, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 2012, Alice in Wonderland, The Smurfs, Arthur Christmas and is being used on all upcoming SPI's films.
Sony Pictures Imageworks has provided visual effects and digital animation for the following films:
- The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest ("The Edge of Yesterday")
- Stuart Little the Animated Series
- Love, Death & Robots ("Lucky 13")
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ("One World, One People")
- Hawkeye (2 episodes)
- Sony Pictures Animation
- Animal Logic
- Pacific Data Images
- Digital Domain
- Blue Sky Studios
- Industrial Light & Magic
- Rhythm & Hues
- Weta Digital
- Moving Picture Company
- Nitrogen Studios
- Image Engine
- Derdeyn, Stuart (September 22, 2017). "Vancouver's Sony Pictures Imageworks is on the cutting edge of VFX industry". The Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
- Bruce Constantineau (May 28, 2014). "Sony Pictures Imageworks to move head office to Vancouver". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
- "Sony Pictures - Divisions". sonypictures.com. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
- "Sony Pictures Imageworks". imageworks.com.
- Halbfinger, David M. (October 31, 2007). "Sony Said to Be Pondering Partial Sale of Movie Units". The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- Failes, Ian (August 30, 2012). "From Speed to Spidey: 20 years of VFX and animation". FX Guide. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- S. Cohen, David (January 21, 2014). "Sony Imageworks Shifting Staff From L.A. to Vancouver; Layoffs Feared". Variety. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- Tito A. Belgrave (September 8, 2003). "Making Waves with Early Bloomer". CGSociety.org. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- "Sony Pictures picks up 51% in FrameFlow" (Press release). FrameFlow via The Economic Times. February 20, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
- IANS (April 11, 2008). "Sony Imageworks opens visual effects studio in Chennai". SiliconIndia.com. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- Verrier, Richard (February 29, 2012). "Sony ImageWorks to Close New Mexico Viz Effects Unit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- "Albuquerque Studios Sees Special Effects of SONY Imageworks Deal in New Mexico" (Press release). Albuquerque Studios via PRWeb. May 20, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
- Kamercik, Megan (February 29, 2012). "Sony Pictures Imageworks to leave New Mexico". New Mexico Business Weekly. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- MacInnis, Tara (August 14, 2012). "How Sony's Vancouver studios give Canadian animators home field advantage". National Post. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- Etan, Vlessing (February 3, 2012). "Sony Pictures Imageworks Expands Canadian Outpost". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- S. Cohen, David (May 29, 2014). "Sony Imageworks Moving HQ to Vancouver". Variety. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- S. Cohen, David (January 29, 2014). "Sony Imageworks India to Shut Down (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
- Marchand, Francois (July 10, 2015). "Sony Pictures Imageworks unveils new Vancouver headquarters". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- Lu, Cecilia (July 29, 2015). "12 photos inside Sony Pictures Imageworks new downtown Vancouver HQ". Vancity Buzz. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- Haines, Eric (July 20, 2010). "Marcos and Arnold". Ray Tracing News. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- "About". Sony Pictures Imageworks. Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
- Robinson, April. "My journey to "Blade Runner 2049"". Autodesk. Retrieved February 18, 2019.